Smart Money NCAA College Basketball Picks For 1/31/2021
We’re back today after a few tough losses on Wednesday. I put my reputation on the line taking Louisville over Clemson and am here to take my lumps. Onto the next! Today, we have a Big Ten matchup between Rutgers and Northwestern and a Big East matchup between Marquette and St. John's.
A Sunday evening matchup between two below-average Big Ten teams seems like the perfect way to get back on track.
Northwestern hosts Rutgers in this one, and as someone who is currently freezing in Chicago, I hope Rutgers is even able to make it here. It just hasn’t stopped snowing.
Anyway, once Rutgers does touch down in Evanston, I like their chances of covering this game as a road favorite. To put it simply – Northwestern just isn’t a good team right now. They came out of the gate strong with two straight wins and then won their first three Big Ten games of the season. The people started chattering, and once they started to gain a little bit of steam, they fell off a cliff.
A big cliff. And we’ve spoken about this cliff before, but I’ll reiterate what we’re talking about here. Since those first three wins in the Big Ten, the Wildcats have lost seven straight. And of those seven, they’ve only covered the spread in one of those games, the most recent one against Penn State where they snuck out with a 2.5-point cover.
And listen, they aren’t hosting Michigan or Illinois or Iowa, they are playing Rutgers, who I understand is not the toast of the town. However, they are 9-6 on the season and are coming off two straight wins, and two straight covers. The latter of those two being a 30-point beatdown of Michigan State.
They are gaining some momentum and were an 11-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology. If they want to keep their tournament hopes alive, they need to take care of business in games like this one. With all of that being said, they still need to win this game by four points. However, if you’re more comfortable taking the moneyline or throwing them into a teaser, I wouldn’t judge you.
Nothing like a Sunday afternoon under, am I right?
This battle in the Big East features two teams who we’ve seen face off already this season. In that game, the under hit by a cool 8.5 points. I don’t see it being much of a different story today.
While St. John's has gone over in 11 of their 16 games this season, Marquette has gone over in just six of their 16.
I’ve spoken about this before but as a refresher, a few of the key things I look at when betting totals in college hoops are three-pointers attempted and free throw percentage. Think about it, when you’re watching a game and have the under, what are the biggest gut punches you can get? Three-balls and fouls. And even worse, the dreaded bonus.
We’ll start with three-pointers attempted. Ranked 193rd and 212th in college basketball isn’t something that scares me. In fact, it helps our case. Neither team is shooting over 22 from downtown a game. 22 may sound like a lot, but if you break it down to the percentage of those threes that actually fall, there isn’t a ton of damage to be done.
Next, free throw percentage. Both teams are shooting under 73% from the line this season, which puts them squarely outside of the top 100 free-throw shooting teams in college basketball. I don’t think trips to the charity stripe should be our Achilles’ Heel here.
This one will come down to how well Marquette’s defense can contain St. John’s offense. If they can contain them, this should be an easy cover. Our TomBox prediction has this game at 147 total points, which would leave us walking away counting our cash.